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Orange Roughy Enters Sustainable Assessment

30 May 2014

NEW ZEALAND - New Zealand’s key orange roughy fisheries will enter into full assessment under the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) standards. The MSC assessment process is expected to take at least 12 months.

Deepwater Group and the Ministry for Primary Industries have been working over the past ten years to ensure that the management of orange roughy is sustainable.

“The industry has taken the lead in closing orange roughy fisheries that needed to be rebuilt, in developing new methodologies for biomass surveys, in developing stock assessments and implementing sustainable harvest strategies,” says George Clement, Chief Executive of Deepwater Group Limited.

The new scientific methodologies include working closely with CSIRO to introduce multi-frequency echo-sounders deployed at depth with synchronised underwater camera systems. These have enabled better understandings of orange roughy stock size, particularly when they are in schools mixed with other species.

“Five years ago formal pre-assessment against the MSC standard identified areas where further remedial work was required. This programme will be completed next month and has included obtaining more information on by-catch, on interactions with protected coral species, and on the effects of trawling on the seabed. In 2013 we engaged internationally-recognised science experts to assess the environmental effects of orange roughy fishing,” says Mr Clement.

During the past 12 months biomass surveys and new stock assessments have found that three of the four key fisheries have been rebuilt, with the fourth rebuilding. Three of these will be assessed against the MSC standard and the fourth will remain in the fisheries improvement programme to complete rebuilding in size to the management target range.

“MSC certification is recognised around the world as the ‘gold standard’ for sustainable fishing and it is a very rigorous process.”

Clement said “Scientists estimate there are more than 156 million adult orange roughy within New Zealand waters and this doesn’t include the young roughy which research has demonstrated have been strongly recruiting into some fisheries in recent years.

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